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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Spence

11 Tips for an Epic Road Trip

New Zealand is great for traveling by campervan. We're road tripping here for the next month. This is a long narrow country with intriguing roads in all directions and while many of those roads are winding and narrow, they all lead somewhere interesting. This trip we’re navigating the South Island. We’ve arrived in Christchurch with a slight advantage, we’ve already done a month-long campervan trip of the North Island two years ago, so we’ve got a good idea of what we’re in for.

This list is great for any country. Although I’ll share more trips from the road, here are my initial tips for an Epic Road Trip:

1. Plan, but expect complications.

Day1 on our seven months Around the World adventure we’ve already had a flight cancelled. Prepare by keeping expectations in check and committing to a good attitude, no matter what.

2. Don’t be in a rush. Traffic, delays, and my favorite – the “why not” factor. If it catches your eye, give it a try. You may never have the opportunity again. Last trip in New Zealand we pulled over when I spied people driving debry-looking carts with wheels zipping across a flat surface. There were sails attached – Land Sailing! By being friendly and inquisitive, I received a free lesson and made new friends.

3. Do your research beforehand. It may take longer than you think to find the trailhead you’re looking for. Map out major parks, experiences, and attractions you want to make sure and get to. Leave room and time to be spontaneous.

4. Try and eat well on the road. Heavy meals tax your body and make you sluggish to enjoy your time. Local farmers markets are a must. Friendly people want you to enjoy their home. Reviews are great, but locals are better. One of my favorite aspects of traveling is trying food that I know I’ll never have a chance to try again. Ask locals where to eat.

5. Manage expectations about what you’re likely to find if you’ve cultivated a huge Instagram gallery or Pinterest Board from others travels. We drove out of our way in Bali to visit a spot that looked like paradise on Instagram, only to discover that not only was it nothing like we had seen online it was polluted and over crowed from the hoards of people (like ourselves) who had been using social media as a tool to find fabulous places to see. This is a new phenomenon that is growing, as overzealous IGERS try and outdo each other with filters and photoshop. Read travel blogs that have real and authentic editorial that you can count on.

6. Travel off season is less crowded and usually cheaper.

7. Use travel resources online. Great example: It’s a goldmine of information including quirky roadside sights. Covering the entire globe, it includes millions of the world’s most interesting destinations and sights.

8. Gather all your technology and travel gadgets beforehand. Invest in a paper map in case your GPS fails because of the remoteness of the region. It’s hard to believe that there are non-existent or slow signals, but those are oftentimes amazing places not to miss.

9. New travel apps appear all the time. Try the new translation apps. You’ll make sure what you really want to say comes across. I’ve found that my personality really never comes through unless I’m fluent in the language. No worries, I encourage you to continue to try without the apps if you find that’s part of the fun of traveling. People appreciate you trying to speak their language so consider at least attempting some often used conversational words. Thank you with a smile in any language goes a long way. Be open to both.

10. Continue something healthy that is routine so that you can stay fit while you travel. Running is easy because all you need is your running shoes and you’ll see much more than riding by on a bike, bus, train or car. Yoga continues to be my go-to around the world simply because every country has organically made their own interpretations of this ancient science in their own way. It gives me great peace to know I can walk in any yoga studio around the world and practice with friendly, kind, and interesting people.*

11. Consider having a ritual you practice everywhere. My ritual is going into a church and lighting candles for my daughters. Even if the place of worship does not practice this simple tradition, it’s a favorite place for us to duck into and simply get quiet, breathe, set intentions, and practice gratitude. The more we travel the more I’m convinced we’re all one, and that’s something to honor and celebrate.

*My favorite yoga information source while in New Zealand is The Yoga Connection. My friend Jane is the passionate yogi who created the site and she's one of the funniest (and most knowledgeable) yoga buddies I've connected with here. Tell her I sent ya.

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